The Overcoat – Nikolai Gogol Research Paper Example

The literature, ‘Gogol’s “perfectly true” tale: “The overcoat” and its true mode of closure’, as was ed by ProffittEdward, review the ending of the story, ‘The Overcoat’ and analyses people’s misconception of its literacy. According to the writer, the Overcoat literature is an excellent work that is perceived by many to be elusive to the reader’s imagination that considers the ending fantastic. The literature ends with news of Akaky’s death that is followed by the existence of a being, understood by many as Akaky’s ghost. This perception is a development of the fact that the ghost appears just after the news of Akaky’s death. The ghost is described to have taken the form of Akaky’s professional position of a government clerk, a matter that is supported by a clerk’s testimony. Such testimony is however questionable because the clerk admits to being too terrified to an extent that he did not have a clear visualization of the ghost. He, however, identifies it to be Akaky’s ghost. The level of fright about the ghost is so intense in the Pittsburg society to an extent that even the police, having arrested the alleged ghost, became terrified and lost it when it violently sneezed. The experience affects the police who become scared of even arresting real people (Proffitt, 35- 40).

A VIP becomes a victim of the perceived ghost during his visit to a mistress. This occurs after he heavily drinks. Even though the mistress is considered his wife’s equivalence, he has her as a tradition to his social class that has also been oppressive to other people. His experience with the alleged ghost, however, restores his humanity. The ghost experience then ceases in the town after the VIP’s experience even though there is still rumors of its existence in some sections of the town (Proffitt, 35- 40).

The author then offers a critical approach to the developed understanding of the ending part of ‘The Overcoat’ story. He identifies Gogol’s perceived art in shifting from the natural form of characters to the introduction of the unnatural character in the ghost and identifies a lack of understanding among both inexperienced and experienced readers over the approach at the end of the story. In his criticism, Proffitt identifies examples of professional readers who infer the existence of the ghost to the form of treatment that Akaky went through, insinuating that the ghost is his. This leads to the development of the concept of poetic justice that is not directly communicated in the story. Identifying phrases in the subject literature that refutes the existence of a ghost, Proffit concludes that readers’ imagination establishes the Gogol’s elusiveness towards the readers’ created ghost and poetic justice that does not exist in the text (Proffitt, 35- 40).


I agree with the writer’s critique of readers’ understanding of the ending of the literature. The writer’s approach to the critique further validates his argument as he offers a summary of the contentious section of the literature before offering his criticism. This allows his audience to understand the section’s concept towards knowledge of the author’s intentions. He also successfully downplays ignorance as to the reason for readers’ misunderstanding of the ending by citing a number of identified professional literature students who misunderstand the work to identify the concept of a ghost and injustice that is not at all communicated by the author. Existence of the misconception of the Gogol’s theme or development of the themes by a large community of readers, therefore, identifies the author’s rich literary style that is so elusive to the audience (Proffitt, 35- 40).

A number of points from the story support the Proffitt’s position of the non-existence of a ghost in the story as well as the theme of poetic justice. One of the evidence is the nature of identification or experiencing the alleged ghost. The clerk’s testimony, for example, discredits the notion of the existence of the ghost. This is because he admits to having been too frightened to an extent that he did not clearly see the ghost and yet he claims to have been able to identify it as specifically Akaky’s ghost. The level of fear among the police that hinders even arrest of real people that the police can identify as living also communicates extremity and superstition that leads to a percept of a normal person or object as a ghost. Similarly, the VIP’s experience communicates doubt over the existence of a ghost owing to his drunken status and lost focus that identifies a non-existent heart attack (Proffitt, 35- 40).
Gogol is therefore so elusive to let the audience perceive nonexistent themes in his text.

Works cited
Proffitt, Edward. Gogol’s “perfectly true” tale: “The overcoat” and its true mode of closure. EBSCO Publishing. 2002. Web. October 16, 2012.

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